Dongdaemun Stadium Memorial, Seoul: The Ambiguous Status of a South Korean Sports Heritage

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Dongdaemun Stadium in Seoul was a landmark in Korea’s sports history. Built during Japanese colonial rule, the huge complex later became South Korea’s main sporting venue. Yet, in 2007 the structure was demolished amid heated debate, and, to memorialize it, two light towers were preserved and a museum named Dongdaemun Stadium Memorial was built. This study aims to evaluate the stadium and the museum’s place within South Korea’s sports heritage, thus contributing to the small yet growing body of scholarship on the sports-heritage nexus. Informed by theoretical approaches to heritage and collective memory, the study employs a mixture of sources and methods, including a close analysis of the site, participant observation, media reports, and discussions with sports-studies scholars. It is argued that despite the museum’s thoughtful and well-organized (re)presentation of the stadium’s memory–and the fact it was constructed during a favorable trend of solidifying sports heritage–the site’s heritage ended up marginal for three reasons, collectively. First, the living memory of the actual structure is still casting a shadow over the museumified version of the memory. Second, both the stadium and its memory gave way to internationally-oriented preferences. Third, the lack of sufficiently influential and pro-active agency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1303-1325
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of the History of Sport
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Dongdaemun Stadium Memorial
  • South Korea
  • collective memory
  • museum
  • sports heritage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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